Mayors for Mentoring

Leaders Making a Positive Difference

From their unique position as community leaders, mayors can make a powerful impact in their cities. MENTOR and our Network of Affiliates want to showcase these elected leaders across the country who are elevating mentoring in their communities.

Mayors are scaling quality mentoring initiatives, mobilizing their communities, and better equipping young people to succeed through improved school attendance and achievement, high school graduation, workforce readiness and connection to their cities.

See a list of legacy Mayors for Mentoring here.

Mayors

Compton, California, Mayor Aja Brown

Mayor Aja Brown recognizes the power of mentoring to unite communities and promote leadership among young people. Mayor Brown established the Her Young Ladies Empowerment Initiative in 2016 to increase mentoring opportunities for girls and young women in Compton. Mayor Brown describes the ultimate goal of the program as “[to] empower young ladies to lead their life with purpose, passion and vision.” In partnership with My Brother’s Keeper, she also launched the Young Men of Compton Seed Program, which pairs male middle school students with mentors. The program has thrived with 25 boys and young men graduating from the program and still maintaining their relationships with their mentors years later.

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Denver, Colorado, Mayor Michael Hancock

Growing up with a positive caring adult in his own life, Mayor Michael Hancock values the impact mentors have in young people’s lives. In 2017, Mayor Hancock partnered with MENTOR Colorado in an effort to help raise awareness of mentoring opportunities in the state. Responding to The Brother’s Keeper Initiative’s (MBK) Call to Action, Mayor Hancock has strengthened Denver’s efforts to expand mentoring opportunities to young people. As a result, hundreds of adults have risen to the challenge to ensure all boys and young men of color have the supports they need. Denver’s efforts have also provided young people with summer employment and with professional networking opportunities. The Office of Independent Monitor has also joined efforts to improve relationships between young people and the Denver Police Department. Mayor Hancock’s leadership has provided Denver with a critical vision through purposeful support for young men and boys of color.  Mayor Hancock said about Denver’s efforts to provide opportunity for young people, “This has been a call to action to those of us committed to the work of changing the narrative for young men and boys of color in our community. The work we’ve been able to get done so far is remarkable.”

Orlando, Florida, Mayor Buddy Dyer

Listed as Orlando’s most powerful person in 2013 by Orlando Magazine, Mayor Buddy Dyer continues to provide support to COMPACT, a 25 year-old mentoring organization that has served more than 12,000 at-risk students in Orlando/Orange County, challenging them to succeed and reach their maximum potential. Mayor Dyer most recently funded the COMPACT Expansion Program that places AmeriCorps Vista volunteers in schools to increase capacity, recruit additional volunteers and provide necessary “on the ground” support in an effort improve student academic performance and decrease absenteeism. Mayor Dyer was quoted as saying in his 2013 State of the City address, “Our economic vitality and quality of life depends on putting more kids on a path to high school graduation, college and a quality job.”

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Tallahassee, Florida, Mayor Andrew D. Gillum

Mayor Andrew D. Gillum has always shown a great deal of passion when it comes to investing in the future of Tallahassee’s young people.  In 2010, Mayor Gillum supported efforts to convert a former neighborhood recreational center into the Palmer-Monroe Teen Center to help meet the emotional, physical, artistic and educational needs of area teens and deter young people away from the Court system and toward productive and constructive activity.  Recently, Mayor Gillum called to recruit a cadre of 1,000 men and women who are willing to serve the local community by volunteering at least one hour of their time, at least once a week, to meet with a mentee.  “We cannot sacrifice our young people to a generation of hopelessness, and mentors can play a special role in helping to motivate and inspire others,” Gillum said.

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St. Petersburg, Florida, Mayor Rick Kriseman

St. Petersburg’s Mayor Rick Kriseman believes that educating our children is the responsibility of the entire community.  To that end, the city joins with the Pinellas Education Foundation in a unique partnership called St. Pete’s Promise to focus the attention of our community on the needs of our children.  In addition, the City of St. Petersburg has adopted an administrative policy providing a paid hour each week for all City of St. Petersburg employees to mentor students in need in our public schools.  More than 200 city employees take advantage of that opportunity, and more than 1/3 of our city employees contribute from their paychecks to sponsor Pinellas Education Foundation Take Stock in Children Scholarships for deserving St. Petersburg children.

Chicago, Illinois, Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has challenged the Chicago business community to raise $50 million over five years for early intervention programs for younger youth, as well as jobs, mentoring, recreation and conflict-resolution programs for teens to counter the city’s gang violence. Allstate Insurance CEO Tom Wilson, whose company has agreed to contribute the first $5 million, will co-chair the campaign with Loop Capital Markets CEO Jim Reynolds. Emanuel noted, “There’s the response part: policing. There’s a gun-control aspect. And there’s also a prevention piece. For everything else to work, you have to have this prevention scaled up. This is not just about getting money out. It’s about getting the right results: kids back in school or learning a skill set so they can have a productive life.”

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Gary, Indiana, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson

Under Mayor Freeman-Wilson, the city of Gary launched the Mentoring Trust in partnership with NIPSCO, the regional utility company. NIPSCO provides eligible employees with paid time off to mentor. NIPSCO Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Employee Involvement and Gary native Eddie Melton stated, “Mentoring is going to be a key component for the turnaround, the renewal, the revival of the city.” Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson agrees that “mentoring is a key piece in the rebuilding of our community.”

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South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a leader in expanding mentoring opportunities to support young people in South Bend. Recognizing the influential work of Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph County as well as other community organizations, Mayor Buttigieg launched a booster club to support mentoring opportunities. Since the creation of the club, the number of mentors in South Bend has doubled. Mayor Buttigieg said about the impact of mentoring relationships, “Mentoring programs have consistently demonstrated positive outcomes for students involved, and those who have served are amazed what the relationship has done for them as well.”

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Pleasant Hill, Iowa, Mayor Sara Kurovski

After becoming the first female mayor of Pleasant Hill, the phone calls and emails began. Not from citizen complaints but from young women asking for Mayor Kurovski to mentor them. Mayor Kurovski informally mentors young women throughout the community and builds relationships through meetings based around their needs and interests. Mayor Kurovski was selected to be the Mayor’s Chair of the Million Women Mentors Iowa effort. In this capacity, she engages with other elected officials to encourage and teach them about the importance of mentoring in their city and the role that they can play.

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Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray

Mayor Jim Gray understands the importance of caring adults showing up for young people. In 2017, he developed the City Mentors program, which offers city employees two hours of paid leave a week to mentor youth. Mayor Gray’s administration actively recruits employees to join City Mentors and holds trainings for businesses that are interested in encouraging their employees to become mentors. The city has also helped cultivate a partnership between the Lexington Police Department and Fayette County Public Schools in order to best reach the young people of Lexington. In his 2017 State of the City Address Mayor Gray said, “You don’t need to be perfect. You just have to be there for a young person. The time investment is modest. The emotional and community benefits are enormous.”

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Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer

Mayor Greg Fischer strives to promote compassion in Louisville through a variety of programs, ranging from the Give A Day community-wide service initiative to a concerted, long-term effort to reduce violence. Mentoring is a part of Mayor Fischer’s dedication to fostering compassion and the skills for lifelong learning and success throughout Louisville. Mayor Fischer has created the Metro Mentors program, which allows thousands of Louisville Metro Government employees the opportunity to give two hours of paid time per week to a variety of mentoring programs. These programs include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Metro Parks & Recreation and the public school system’s reading and tutoring program. The Metro Mentors program allows city employees an opportunity to help Louisville’s youth become the successful, dedicated leaders of tomorrow.

Boston, Massachusetts, Mayor Martin J. Walsh

Mayor Martin “Marty” J. Walsh has made youth mentoring an integral part of his platform in Boston, developing the “Mayors Mentoring Movement” with affiliate Mentoring Partnership Mass Mentoring as a key partner. He has publicly talked about his commitment to mentoring at various My Brother’s Keeper events locally and nationally, holding a press conference to officially launch the integration of the initiative in Boston. He has continued to leverage social media channels to encourage civic engagement and mentoring, co-authored an op-ed on the importance of mentoring during National Mentoring Month 2015 and has been vocal about the importance of funding mentoring programs. Mayor Walsh can be quoted as saying, “We can make a difference and take extra steps to ensure that every young person has a caring adult in their lives. Boston youth are full of potential, and deserve successful outcomes. I have experienced first-hand the power a mentor can have, and I want to make sure each of our Boston youth can take advantage of this opportunity.”

Holyoke, Massachusetts, Mayor Alex Morse

Mayor Alex Morse is one of Mass Mentoring Partnership’s Mayors for Mentoring, a campaign that engages mayors throughout Massachusetts in raising awareness of the need for more mentors; recognizing local mentoring programs and their participants; and encouraging ways for individuals and communities to get involved in mentoring. At the Holyoke Health Center, Morse proclaimed January as National Mentoring Month and talked about how mentoring has affected his life, as well as its importance to the city. “Mentoring programs are a proven and powerful community strategy that impacts the wide variety of critical social issues facing the young people of the City of Holyoke,” he said. “Whether they are faced with academic challenges, the risk of teen pregnancy, or violence and bullying, students who are invested in a high-quality mentoring relationship are not only likely to experience an increase both in self-esteem and a hope for the future, but they are provided with the skills they need to rise above the pressures of adolescence that so many of our young people face on a regular basis.”

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Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James

Mayor Sly James is committed to ensuring every child receives a high-quality education regardless of where they live or their socio-economic background.  Mayor James has supported several initiatives designed to ensure the success of Kansas City’s young people, including the Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative, a program designed to support careers of women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and the national Million Women Mentors initiative, which aims to find mentors for girls and young women interested in STEM careers.

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South Sioux City, Nebraska, Mayor Rod Koch

Mayor Rod Koch has mentored through the TeamMates Mentoring Program over the past five years and has been a vocal advocate for the program since becoming mayor of South Sioux City, Nebraska in 2014. He loves the opportunity TeamMates has given him to walk the hallways of local schools with his mentee, who graduated from high school in the spring of 2015. Of his experience, Rod says, “I was able to watch the transformation of a shy young man with lots of questions as he turned into a confident student with aspirations of going to college.” When speaking publicly, Mayor Koch frequently ties the impact mentoring programs like TeamMates have had on South Sioux City’s school district and encourages others to give their time to make a difference in the life of a young person. “I believe that our match was a success and a win for the community because of the things we were able to teach each other about our cultures and our families. The guidance and attention of an adult to our young people is vital to the success of the student and to the future of the community.”

Omaha, Nebraska, Mayor Jean Stothert

Mayor Jean Stothert has been a supporter of mentoring as the mayor of Omaha, Nebraska—Midlands Mentoring Partnership’s home location, since elected in 2013. Mayor Stothert continuously encourages her city employees to become mentors and participates yearly in MMP’s January press conference to celebrate National Mentoring Month. In her role as mayor, she continues to demonstrate her support for mentoring in all of the activities that she participates in city-wide. Mayor Stothert has said “We have such a giving community in Omaha—like no other. We have a very caring, compassionate community. The community sees the economic benefits of mentoring and they see the benefits for our community. Most importantly, mentoring makes the mentor feel good. People that mentor, when they come back to work, feel revitalized, they feel happy about it, and they know they’ve made a big difference in someone’s life”.

Holdrege, Nebraska, Mayor Doug Young

Doug Young, mayor of Holdrege, Nebraska, is a true believer and supporter mentoring in Nebraska. Mayor Young has been an active volunteer mentor for four years and currently has two mentees. Not only is serving his community by serving as a mentor, but has provided leadership on the local TeamMates Mentoring Partnership Advisory Board for three years. He is active in TeamMates and is involved in various other organizations focused on youth. He connects with youth through community organizations Kiwanas, Awanas, and helps with the Nebraska State Wrestling tournament. In January, 2015 , Mayor Young submitted a mayoral proclamation in support of National Mentoring Month. Something Mayor Young has said to his mentee is, “You have to believe in yourself before others believe in you!”

New York City, New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio

In support of New York City schools, Mayor de Blasio created The Community Schools initiative, a resource supporting youth and their families to help them achieve their best selves. As a part of this initiative, youth are matched with AmeriCorps mentors who serve as role models and provide guidance throughout their school experience. A main focus of the mentoring component is improving chronic absenteeism and promoting increased school engagement. 128 schools and counting are affiliated with the initiative, with over 2500 youth ultimately experiencing the benefits of a mentoring relationship. In 2015, Mayor de Blasio has made several calls to action to citizens and businesses in New York City, asking them to help strengthen the local community by investing in mentoring. Sharing his belief in the power of mentoring in a recent statement Mayor de Blasio can be quoted as saying, “A few hours a week to impact one life — one life to change countless others. And you have the power and the opportunity to make that difference.”

Buffalo, New York, Mayor Byron W. Brown

Mayor Byron Brown knows the positive effect that support from a caring adult can have on a young person. In 2015, he launched the City of Buffalo Mentoring Program, which aims to increase the number of city employees who serve as mentors to young people. As a result of this initiative, 80 city employees are now committed to mentoring youth. Mayor Brown has also held trainings and information sessions in partnership with Say Yes Buffalo Mentoring Program, which pairs students who are graduating from high school and enrolling in college with a mentor. When speaking about the City of Buffalo Mentoring Program, he said, “There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child…I’m proud of the city employees who stepped up to help mentor our children to help prepare them to be the future leaders of our city.”

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mayor William Peduto

Mayor William Peduto is a staunch advocate for mentoring in the City of Pittsburgh and beyond. His Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative (MMI) consists of three programs that aim to encourage City of Pittsburgh employees to get involved with mentoring youth in the community. The program includes paid time off for eligible employees to participate in local mentoring programs. Mayor Peduto shows that making an impact through mentoring is one of the most powerful ways to provide our youth with an advantageous experience towards a better future.

Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Steve Benjamin

Mayor Steve Benjamin launched the Mayor’s Mentoring Network, a new mentor recruitment partnership between his office and mentoring organizations throughout the community, which can register with the network to receive volunteer referrals. In addition, Benjamin leveraged National Mentoring Month with his announcement of #MensChallenge, a new campaign to recruit more male mentors for Columbia’s young men. “We believe that Columbia has the potential to become the most talented, educated and entrepreneurial city in the America,” said Benjamin. “But in order make that vision a reality, we have to make a real and lasting investment in our children.”

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Memphis, Tennessee, Mayor Jim Strickland

Mayor Jim Strickland recognizes the important role of relationships in uniting communities. As Mayor, he has issued a call to action that includes asking Memphians to become mentors and initiatives that empower youth. In partnership with MENTOR Memphis Grizzlies, the Mayor calls for all adults to commit one hour a week to mentoring. Additionally, in order to help close the reading gap, he encourages Memphians to participate in the Shelby County Schools’ Team Read initiative using developmental relationship building to encourage learning. Mayor Strickland also launched the Adopt-A-Block initiative that promotes youth involvement in their communities. Mayor Strickland hopes to have 10,000 Memphians become mentors. Understanding the importance of leading by example, in January 2017, Mayor Strickland volunteered to become a mentor to a young 7th grade student at Grizzlies Prep.

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser

Mayor Muriel Bowser has long supported efforts to advance achievement and opportunity and reduce racial disparities for boys and men of color across Washington, DC.  As part of her administration’s Empowering Males of Color initiative, Mayor Bowser recently partnered with DC Public Schools to launch the 500 for 500: Mentoring Through Literacy program, a program designed to engage 500 volunteers as mentors to 500 male students of color to help them build strong literacy skills, gain confidence, and discover a passion for reading.

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mayor Tom Barrett

Mayor Tom Barrett believes that mentoring serves as an important building block for setting young people up for success. In response to the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative’s call to action, Mayor Barrett created a comprehensive plan to increase graduation rates, support young people with professional development and increase opportunities for youth in Milwaukee. In partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Public Schools, Mayor Barrett is also working to expand mentoring opportunities for youth. The program’s private-public partnership demonstrates a critical need for collaboration across sectors. Mayor Barrett once said, “By creating more mentoring opportunities, we are making sure every young person in the City has a positive influence to shape their future.”

NOMINATE YOUR MAYOR TO BE A MAYOR FOR MENTORING

What is the Mayors for Mentoring campaign?

The campaign is an effort to celebrate the efforts of mayors to expand the quality and quantity of mentoring opportunities for young people in their communities.

Goals:

  • To spotlight elected leaders across the country elevating mentoring in their cities
  • To raise awareness about the multiplying benefits of quality mentoring for young people and their communities
  • To encourage mayors to demonstrate their support for mentoring and to collaborate with other mayors and elected leaders to expand access to quality youth mentoring opportunities
  • To encourage adoption of positive policies and programs to support expanded access to quality youth mentoring opportunities

Criteria for nomination:

Required:

  • Must be current mayor (or equivalent). Can be deputy or lieutenant mayor (or equivalent).
  • Must be committed to elevating mentoring in their community. Ideally, mayor has demonstrated this support publicly (in a proposal or initiative, featured on official website, included in public remarks, included in City budget, etc.).
  • Must commit to recognizing National Mentoring Month every January.

Encouraged:

  • Includes supporting young people through quality mentoring relationships in official platforms, campaigns, or initiatives, and/or as part of regular public remarks and social media communications.
  • Celebrates the role of volunteer mentors by offering paid leave to City employees (or similar policy). See MENTOR’s recommended leave policy [here].
  • Encourages City employees and/or community members to consider volunteering as a mentor to a young person.
  • Engages local schools and businesses and encourages their support of and engagement with quality mentoring efforts.
  • Supports local mentoring programs.
  • Includes MENTOR’s Mentoring Connector widget on official web page so their constituents can seek mentoring opportunities in their city.

NOMINATE YOUR MAYOR TO BE A MAYOR FOR MENTORING

For questions or submissions of potential Mayors for Mentoring please contact Abbie Evans, Senior Director of Government Relations at AEvans@mentoring.org.